Annie Fellows Johnston 1863-1931

Kentucky author Annie Fellows Johnston received widespread fame and popularity from
the late 19th Century and into the early 20th century as a prolific author of books for children.
Her thirteen-book Little Colonel series beginning with The Little Colonel (1895) was broadly
read. She authored over fifty-one books and contributed short stories to periodicals such as the
Youth’s Companion, Godey’s Lady’s Book, St. Nicholas Magazine, and others. She also had two
other series: the Cosy Corner Series included ten books and The Jewel Series, seven books. With
few exceptions, most all her books were issued by the Boston publisher L. C. Page.
In the flyleaf of her book The Land of the Little Colonel: Reminiscence and
Autobiography (1929) The Boston Transcript described Anne Fellows Johnson as “… a rare gift
in producing little stories in the nature of allegories full of spiritual significance and beauty… the
most gifted and the most helpful of present-day writers for young people.”
Her work is now considered anachronistic, depicting the antebellum South still
transitioning from the Civil War, and must be taken in the context of the times. Sue Lynn Stone
McDaniel, in her article “The Little Colonel: A Phenomenon in Popular Literary Culture,”
characterizes Johnston’s writing as having led several generations of impressionable young
readers to idealize the Old South and accept selfless values which she taught through the Little
Colonel series.
Most all her characters and settings are said to depict real places, people, and life
experiences and are mostly set in a fictionalized Peewee Valley, Kentucky she called
Lloydsborough Valley.
Born Annie Julia Fellows in 1863, she grew up with her mother, brother Erwin and two
sisters, Lura & Albion, on a farm in McCutchanville, Indiana, near Evansville. Her father,
Albion, a Methodist minister, died when she was two. Annie began writing poems and short
stories as young girl. She was a voracious reader, said to have read every book in her Sunday
school library. She attended district school and upon graduating at 17, taught there briefly.
Annie attended the University of Iowa for one year (1881-82). She returned to Evansville
where she taught three years, before taking a job as a private secretary. She then traveled for
several months through New England and Europe, and the influence of these trips appeared later
in many of her works. Upon returning, she married her cousin and widower William L. Johnston
who had three young children. He was supportive of her writing. William died in 1892, leaving
Annie a widow with his children to support. It was at that time that Annie began her career as a
writer.
Johnston moved to the Pewee Valley in 1898. She loved the leisurely pace and
aristocratic lineage of its people. But shortly, she was beset by tragedy. In 1899, her stepdaughter Rena, died and her step-son John’s health deteriorated. In 1901, she took him West to a
more favorable climate; first in Arizona, then California, and Texas. He died in 1910. From
1904-1910, she wrote four books set in the Southwest and four books in a continuation of the
Little Colonel series.
In 1910, Annie returned to Pewee Valley and published five books during this period.
She lived there until her death in 1931. In 1935, Twentieth Century Fox released The Little
Colonel, a film with Shirley Temple playing the part of the Little Colonel, a role well suited to
her. Lionel Barrymore played the part of the Old Colonel.
Her publishing career spanned from 1895-1935 and included 51 books. From 1895-1914,
she published at least one book per year and in fourteen of those years published multiple books.
Her most productive year was 1904 when she published four books.
She is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana.

Bell Hooks 1952

Bell Hooks has spent a lifetime deriving what is needed to bridge cultural, gender, and
racial divides. Her mission has been to develop constructs where scholars, activists, and readers
can accomplish this. She has brought how we talk about race in an evolving “post racial” era to
the forefront.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952, bell hooks was reared in rural
Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She says her neighborhood was a world where folks were content to get
by on a little, where her maternal grandmother made soap, dug fishing worms, set traps for
rabbits, made butter and wine, sewed quilts, and wrung the necks of chickens. She believes her
home community turned the hardships created by racial segregation and racism into a source of
strength.
Gloria was one of six siblings: five sisters and a brother. Her father worked as a janitor,
and her mother, Rosa Bell Oldham Watkins, worked as a maid in the homes of white families.
hooks was taught in a segregated school by strong teachers, mostly single black women, who
helped to shape the self-esteem of children of color. By the time she was ten, hooks had begun
writing her own poetry and soon developed a reputation for her ability to recite poetry.
She developed a strong sense of self that allowed some black women to speak out against
racism and sexism. She is a poet, fictionist, and most well known as a writer of critical essays on
systems of domination.
After high school, she accepted a scholarship to Stanford University, in California.
During her early college years, she began Ain’t I a Woman, which examines how black women,
throughout modern history, have been oppressed by white men, black men, and white women.
The book became central in discussions of racism and sexism. Eleven years later, Publishers
Weekly ranked it among the “twenty most influential women’s books of the previous twenty
years.”
She obtained her BA in English from Stanford University in 1973, and her MA in English
from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976. In 1983, she completed her doctorate in
literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a dissertation on author Toni
Morrison.
It was in her role as a teacher that hooks felt she was doing her most important work. She
knew that for a people historically and legally denied the right to education, teaching was one of
the most substantial forms of political resistance she could choose.
After holding various positions at the University of California in Santa Cruz, California,
in the early 1980s, hooks left for Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she had the
opportunity to teach African American Studies. In 1988, she joined the faculty at Oberlin
College, in Ohio, where she taught Women’s Studies. In 1995, she accepted a post with the City
College of New York. She currently serves as Distinguished Professor in Residence at Berea
College in Berea, Kentucky.
hooks’ awards include: American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1991, for
Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics; Writer’s Award, Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest
Fund, 1994; Image Award nomination, National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, 2001, for Happy to Be Nappy; Children’s Book of the Year designation, Bank Street
College, 2002, for Homemade Love; Hurston Wright Legacy Award nomination, 2002, for
Salvation: Black People and Love.

John Fox, Jr. 1862-1919

Harriet Holman in her article “John Fox, Jr. Appraisal and Self-Appraisal,” said that once
Kentucky’s local color writer John Fox, Jr. became an established author, magazine editors
bought everything he offered them. A remarkable fact of John Fox’s literary career is that he
never had a manuscript rejected. Equally remarkable is that he published two of the first millionselling novels in the United States.
John William Fox was born December 16, 1862 at Stony Point in Bourbon County, seven
miles east of Paris, Kentucky in the heart of the Bluegrass. The Fox family was well-known and
close knit. John had four full brothers and two sisters, and three half-brothers from his father’s
first wife who had died in childbirth. His mother was Minerva Carr. His father, John
W. Fox, was headmaster of the Stony Point Academy, which John Jr. attended from 1867 to

  1. After attending the Transylvania University for two years, he entered Harvard University
    in 1880 to study English, graduating cum laude in 1883 as the youngest member of his class.
    After his education, Fox moved to New York City where he worked as a journalist with
    the New York Sun and New York Times. During his stay in New York, Fox met Fritzi Scheff, a
    prima donna with the Imperial Opera of Vienna, who was performing with the New York
    Metropolitan Opera. She later was to become his wife.
    Upon James Lane Allen’s recommendation, he submitted his first novella “A Mountain
    Europa” to The Century Magazine who published it serially, followed by “A Cumberland
    Vendetta” a year later. The mountaineer-theme would be repeated in future works. A
    Cumberland Vendetta and Other Stories (1895) was his first published collection of short stories,
    followed by Hell-Fer-Sartain and Other Stories (1897), and The Kentuckians (1897). After his
    fame began to grow, his new home attracted a number of illustrious visitors, including future
    President Theodore Roosevelt, who became a life-long friend of Fox’s. Fox met Roosevelt after
    he was sent to Cuba by Harper’s Weekly in 1898 as a war correspondent covering the Spanish—
    American War. While there he served with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
    Due to his popularity from the Century publications and his successful publishing with
    Harper’s Brothers and Scribner, he launched a lecture circuit, travelling in Europe and America,
    including visits to President Roosevelt’s White House, where he sang mountain songs and read
    from his own works.
    His novel, The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come was released in 1903 and became the
    first novel printed in the United States to sell one million copies. In 1904, Fox was sent as a war
    correspondent to Japan and Manchuria to cover the Russo-Japanese War. That experience
    resulted in the publication of Following the Sun Flag: A Vain Pursuit Through Manchuria
    (1905).
    His wildly popular romance/coming-of-age Novel The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was
    released in 1908. This tale of the “outsider” engineer Jack Hale falling in love with mountain girl
    June Tolliver vividly and honestly portrays the local color of life in the mountains in all its
    scenic and rugged splendor, with charming descriptions of culture and the people who made up
    this important aspect of pioneering American life. This novel was to become the first novel
    printed in the United States to sell two million copies.
    The same year that The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was released, he married Fritzi
    Scheff, the famed opera and movie star he had met in New York. The tempestuous marriage
    lasted 5 years and ended in divorce in 1913.
    The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine are arguably
    his most well-known and successful works. He was on the New York Times’ top ten list of
    bestselling novels for 1903, 1904, 1908, and 1909. In 1916, Cecil B. DeMille wrote, directed,
    and produced a film version of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. Other versions appeared in 1923
    and 1936.
    Fox traveled widely, counting among his friends other such popular writers as Richard
    Harding Davis, Jack London, and Booth Tarkington. He was awarded many honors in his
    lifetime including election to membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1899, a
    medal for his literary contributions from the Emperor of Japan, and his dedication and lobbying
    led to the passing of the Federal Copyright Act.
    He died July 8, 1919 of pneumonia at Big Stone Gap, Virginia and is buried in the Paris
    Cemetery, at Paris, Kentucky

Walter Tevis 1928-1984
Famed crime writer and literary critic James Sallis wrote in the Boston Globe that Walter
Tevis’ The Man Who Fell to Earth was “among the finest science fiction novels…” He labeled it
as a Christian parable and a portrait of the artist, describing it as one of the most heartbreaking
books he had encountered. He called it “…a threnody on great ambition and terrible failure, and
an evocation of man’s absolute, unabridgeable [sic] aloneness.”
Walter Tevis was born in San Francisco in 1928 and lived there for the first ten years of
his life. Tevis developed a rheumatic heart condition, so his parents placed him in the Stanford
Children’s Convalescent home for a year during which time they returned to Kentucky, where the
Tevis family had been given an early land grant in Madison County. Walter traveled across
country alone by train at age eleven to rejoin his family in Kentucky. He made friends with Toby
Kavanaugh, a fellow student at the Lexington High School. He learned to shoot pool in the
recreation room of the Rhoda Kavanaugh Mansion in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and to read
science fiction books for the first time in the library there. They remained lifelong friends. Toby
later became the owner of a pool room in Lexington which would have an impact on Tevis’
writing.
At the age of seventeen, Walter became a carpenter’s mate in the Navy, serving on board
the USS Hamil in Okinawa. After his discharge, he attended the University of Kentucky where
he studied with the Pulitzer Prize winner A. B. Guthrie, author of The Big Sky and received B.A.
(1949) and M.A. (1954) degrees in English Literature. While a student there, Tevis worked in his
friend Toby’s pool hall, wrote his first “pool hall” story “The Big Hustle” in Guthrie’s class, and
had it published in the August 5, 1955 issue of Collier’s.
Upon graduation, he taught everything from the sciences and English to physical
education in small-town Kentucky high schools, including Science Hill, Hawesville, Irvine and
Carlisle. He also taught at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, and
Southern Connecticut State University. He later attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he
received a M.F.A. in creative writing in 1960.
He published his first science fiction short story “The Ifth of Oofth” in Galaxy Science
Fiction in 1957. He also married Jamie Griggs the same year and they remained together for 27
years. They had a son, William Thomas, and a daughter, Julia Ann. He continued to publish,
placing short stories in The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Redbook, Cosmopolitan and
Playboy. His first novel The Hustler was published in 1959 with Harper & Row, followed by The
Man Who Fell to Earth in 1963 with Gold Medal Books.
He taught English Literature and Creative Writing at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio for
fourteen years, but he published very little while there. He left that post in 1978 to come to New
York and resume writing. He wrote four more novels– Mockingbird, The Steps of the Sun, The
Queen’s Gambit and The Color of Money. Additionally, he published Far From Home (1981), a
collection of short stories. His popular works were translated into nearly twenty languages,
among those were French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Greek,
Israeli, and Japanese. The Man Who Fell to Earth was named the best science fiction novel for

  1. Tevis was also a nominee for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1980 for Mockingbird.
    Three of Tevis’ six novels were the basis for major motion pictures. The Hustler (1961)
    and The Color of Money (1984) followed the escapades of fictional pool hustler “Fast Eddie”
    Felson. The Man Who Fell to Earth was released in 1976 and subsequently re-made in 1987 as a
    TV film.
    Tevis spent his last years in New York City where he died of lung cancer in 1984. He is
    buried in the Richmond Cemetery at Richmond, Kentucky.

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